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Marguerite Casey calls for funding police and criminal justice reform

May 28, 2021

Woman holding a power fist sign at a demonstration, surrounded by protest signs

The Marguerite Casey Foundation has announced a new initiative aimed at strengthening philanthropy's commitment to ending police violence and mass incarceration in the United States.

Launched on the one-year anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd, Answering the Uprising: Closing the Say/Do Gap in Philanthropy is aimed at "correcting" philanthropy's inadequate response to the racial justice uprisings in 2020. To that end, the foundation—which awards $32 million annually to help BIPOC leaders shift the balance of power in their communities—will increase its grantmaking in support of efforts to address racial injustice in policing and the criminal justice system by 5 percent, or $1.6 million.

The Seattle-based foundation is calling on other philanthropies to double down on their efforts to bring an end to state-sanctioned racial violence, including increasing their grantmaking, awarding unrestricted funds to Black-led organizations, and/or reevaluating their funding portfolios to ensure that they support initiatives and organizations working on police violence at the level required to effect real change. Foundations signing on to the initiative to date include Borealis PhilanthropyWoods Fund Chicago, and the San FranciscoRoy + Patricia Disney FamilyGroup Health, and New York foundations.

"True partnership means philanthropy must pivot its strategy to align with movements," said Amoretta Morris, president of Borealis Philanthropy, which will make a contribution to an existing collaborative fund dedicated to transforming policing. "In order to upend oppressive systems, we must put our trust in the leadership of the people most impacted by those systems and invest in them."

"When it comes to ending police violence, philanthropy has largely failed to follow powerful statements with powerful commitments," said Marguerite Casey Foundation president and CEO Carmen Rojas. "This say/do gap in philanthropy has undermined the movement for Black lives, rather than truly supporting it. Philanthropy can and should do more. Last summer, more than twenty million people protested on the streets, with tens of millions more taking action beyond that. Police violence and mass incarceration not only take lives—they destroy communities. The change that millions of people have rightfully demanded simply hasn't been supported by the full force of philanthropy."

Marguerite Casey Foundation press release 05/25/2021.
Answering the Uprising statement 05/21/2021.

Tags: Police reform; Foundations and grantmaking; Equity